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Title: Career Paths of Lay Catholic Primary Women Principals in a Rural Diocese: A Voice for Catholic Women
Contributor(s): Smith, Margaret Concepta Eugenie (author); Harman, Kay  (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 1997
Copyright Date: 1996
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: The purpose of this study is to investigate the career paths of lay Catholic women primary principals in a rural Catholic diocese in NSW. The study was undertaken for three main reasons. Firstly, there has been little research in this area. Secondly, the reasons for the higher percentage of women principals in Catholic primary schools than in state and independent schools in Australia is a phenomenon worth investigating. Finally, existing research suggests that women have a different perception of career from that held by men and this was considered worthy of attention. The case study approach adopted allowed these areas to be investigated and also provided an opportunity for Catholic women principals involved in the study to contribute to the debate on women in educational management. The career paths, the support mechanisms and barriers to career advancement encountered by these principals were examined. To ensure that women were placed at the centre of the discourse, a feminist approach to the study was employed. As part of the case study, a descriptive survey was conducted with all fourteen lay primary women principals in the rural Catholic diocese under examination and semi-structured, in-depth interviews were used as a follow-up with six of these principals. The findings suggest that these women experienced many of the same barriers as those outlined in the literature for women in educational administration generally. In addition, they faced many extra obstacles which were inherent in the position of Catholic principal in a rural town or village. The structures for selection and appointment within the diocese were found to work in their favour as all had achieved success and fulfilment in promotion to the principalship. Despite their success, however, many professed no further career ambitions in education, a reflection of both the difficulties that the majority had experienced in balancing their roles as homemaker and Catholic principal and their concept of career which differed from that found in the literature for men. Implications of these findings point to the need for continuing programmes to attract capable women to teaching and administration. The structural barriers for women inherent in the attainment of a promotions position and the demands of the Catholic school principalship in particular must be addressed to retain capable and qualified women in educational administration in Catholic schools. Finally, it is proposed that paradigms of management which include women's experience need to be promoted and selection panels for principals need training to eliminate the barriers which can discriminate against women candidates for promotion.
Publication Type: Thesis Masters Research
Rights Statement: Copyright 1996 - Margaret Concepta Eugenie Smith
HERDC Category Description: T1 Thesis - Masters Degree by Research
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